If they need war, we will fight - Gen Makenga on DRC’s plans to attack M23

On 7 July 2023 at 09:38

The military commander of the M23 rebel group, Gen Sultan Makenga, has emphasized the group’s readiness to protect itself in the event of a war initiated by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He further asserted that the DRC’s reported plan to bring armed groups into cantonments does not concern the M23 rebels.

Gen Makenga and his lieutenants are currently based in Rutshuru and Jomba forests in DRC.

The statement from Gen Makenga comes at a time when the Congolese Army (FARDC) is actively preparing for attacks against the rebel group.

According to sources, the FDLR terrorist group, collaborating with FARDC, has been deploying its combatants closer to M23 strongholds in areas designated for the deployment of the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF).

Gen Makenga has through a video aired on Sabyinyo News YouTube channel on 6th July 2023 ,criticized the Congolese government’s proposal to disarm the M23 rebels and relocate their combatants into cantonments, considering it a deceptive move that overlooks crucial factors.

He cited the EAC Heads of State summit held in February of this year as an example, where specific resolutions concerning M23 and the government were issued but later disregarded by the DRC.

"Among these resolutions were ceasefire, the withdrawal of M23, and dialogues between the government and M23. In accordance with our respect and trust in the EAC heads of state, M23 complied with the resolutions on our side and now awaits dialogues to address the root causes of the conflict. The cantonment proposal does not concern us anyway," Gen Makenga explained.

A soldier identified as Lt Col Alfred Musubao Muriro, belonging to M23, recently appeared in a video released by the Kivu Press Agency, briefing his soldiers to remain vigilant as FDLR fighters continue to encroach upon their base.

While acknowledging that war is not the optimal solution, Lt Col Muriro emphasized the necessity for the rebels to defend themselves by any means against potential attacks. He further expressed their ongoing appeal to the government to engage in dialogue to find a peaceful resolution to existing problems, despite the government’s inclination towards war.

Meanwhile, the DRC government asserts its readiness to fight against the M23 rebel group with the goal of reclaiming all regions previously captured by the rebels.

Gen Makenga responded by stating that M23 will maintain a calm approach if the DRC chooses a peaceful process, but did not rule out the possibility of war if that is the path chosen by the DRC.

"M23 is here. When they finish their comedies, M23 will assume its responsibility. We desire peace and are peaceful. We will abide by their decision. If they desire peace, we will achieve it together. If they choose war, we will fight. That is our stance," declared Gen Makenga.